Shortstop Erick Aybar and second baseman Alberto Callaspo at Rookie-A Provo in August 2002.
The Siamese Twins are reunited.
Multiple sources, including MLB.com, confirm the Angels have traded pitchers Sean O’Sullivan and Will Smith to the Kansas City Royals. In return, the Angels reacquire infielder Alberto Callaspo.
Callaspo and Angels shortstop Erick Aybar were known as the “Siamese Twins,” joined at the hip from the moment they formed the double play combo for the Rookie-A Provo Angels under manager Tom Kotchman in 2002. The two moved up together to Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2003, but in 2004 the Angels separated them by assigning Aybar to High-A Rancho Cucamonga while Callaspo moved up to Double-A Arkansas. This gave Callaspo more experience at shortstop, while Aybar played short in Rancho.
The two were reunited at Arkansas to begin 2005, with Callaspo back at second and Aybar at short. Alberto moved up to Triple-A Salt Lake in mid-July that year, and after the season was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for reliever Jason Bulger. Callaspo later was sent to the Royals in December 2007, with pitcher Billy Buckner going to Phoenix.
It appeared the twins had been separated forever, except for the occasional matchup where Aybar’s Angels team would play Callaspo’s employer.
A rumor surfaced July 20 on ESPNLosAngeles.com, reported by Mark Saxon, that the Angels were pursuing Callaspo for O’Sullivan and a “fringe prospect.” A few posters on a certain fan site responded by smearing Saxon (read the comments), but Saxon delivered a baseball rumor that for once turned out to be right.
When I read the rumor, the first thought that went through my mind was that Angels general manager Tony Reagins was the farm director during the “Siamese Twins” years, so he knew Callaspo as well as anyone. Other than that, I gave it no more credibility than any other rumor that circulates through cyberland.
Off-field incidents aside, on the field Callaspo had perhaps his finest offense year in 2009, posting an AVG/OBP/SLG of .300/.356/.457 (.813) OPS. Of his 721 major league games through 2009, he’d appeared in only 26 games at third base.
In 2010, the Royals moved him to third base, where he’s been most of the year. His overall AVG/OBP/SLG were .275/.308/.410; away from Kansas City, those numbers were .274/.300/.419.
Some fan sites are speculating this might be a precursor to another trade, assuming that if Callaspo takes over in Anaheim at third base it spells the end for Brandon Wood. That’s certainly possible, although one could also speculate that the Angels might move Howie Kendrick and return Callaspo to second. Who knows. But whether it’s third base or second base, Callaspo and Aybar will once again be side-by-side on an Angels infield.
Regarding Will Smith, upon hearing that he was the second player in the trade I immediately remembered a conversation I had last fall with Royals minor league manager Jim Gabella, who runs their Midwest League affiliate in Burlington, Iowa. Gabella told me Smith was the one Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher in 2009 he didn’t want to face, and that he’d filed a scouting report with the Kansas City front office projecting Smith as a #3 major league starter.
I suspect Gabella’s scouting report played a prominent role in the trade negotiations the last couple days.
Here are FutureAngels.com video clips of the traded players from their Angels minor league days (Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection required):
UPDATE 5:30 PDT — The Kansas City Star on the Royals’ perspective:
Smith, 6-5 and 235, is 5-8 with a 5.53 ERA in 19 starts this season at three LA affiliates. The Angels selected him in the seventh round of the 2008 draft.
“He’s a big, tall left-hander who throws strikes,” Moore said. “He just turned 21, and he’s been pitching in Double-A and Triple-A. The numbers can be very misleading in the overall projection of the pitcher and what he brings.”